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House and Senate Tax Bills Will Decimate Affordable Housing in Vermont

Posted December 1, 2017

MONTPELIER, VT — The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC), a state leader in housing policy, research and advocacy, today issued the following statement on the tax bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and under consideration in the Senate:

At a time when Vermont already has a shortage of 10,866 affordable homes for extremely low income renters and the 5th highest affordability gap for renters in the country, the pending tax proposals would eliminate tax credits and financing tools that have helped create thousands of affordable apartments  in our state and made homeownership more affordable for thousands of Vermonters.

“Vermont already has an affordable housing crisis, but these bills would make it a catastrophe.  Without the tax credits and bonds that the House bill eliminates, thousands of affordable homes will not be built, and more Vermonters will be left homeless or stuck in homes they cannot afford,” said Ted Wimpey, VAHC Steering Committee Chair and Director of CVOEO’s Fair Housing Project.  “The Senate proposal is more favorable but would still substantially reduce affordable rental housing production at a time when the need is so acute.  If either of these tax bills becomes law, it will put families out on the streets and irreparably harm Vermont communities.”

Overall, Vermont could lose an estimated $15 million in housing investments every year – losses that not only directly affect Coalition members’ ability to create affordable housing for low-income and vulnerable Vermonters, but also the amount of construction and real estate activity that the state relies on to help stimulate economic development, create good-paying jobs, and improve our communities.

“We are thankful that our entire congressional delegation strongly opposes these unbelievably harmful bills and hope that they do not become law, especially those provisions that are so damaging to affordable housing,” noted VAHC Coordinator Erhard Mahnke.  “We need real tax reform that helps address our housing crisis and protects struggling low- and moderate-income people.”

THE TAX BILL PASSED BY THE HOUSE:

  • Significantly weakens the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the nation’s largest affordable rental housing development resource. The Housing Credit is a successful public-private partnership that has become the foundation for affordable housing development across Vermont and New England. While the credit itself is retained, it would be significantly weakened due to the proposed reduction in the corporate tax. With the value of depreciation expense and interest deductions reduced, the value of the Housing Credit would drop, greatly reducing private investment in low income housing. The tax proposal contains no changes to the credit that would help address this impact.
    • The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) estimates the state would lose $5-6 million in private investments annually as a result. Last year the Housing Credit generated $30 million in private, up-front equity for construction, acquisition and renovation of affordable housing across the state.  In recent years, the credit has helped fund an annual average of 300 rental homes.
  • Eliminates the tax exemption on Private Activity Bonds, including multifamily and homeownership housing bonds. This tax exemption allows bond-financed multifamily projects to access ‘4% Housing Credits,’ which have helped produce or preserve tens of thousands of affordable homes in New England. Developments financed with 4% Credits often serve households with extremely low incomes, and have also been used on mixed-income developments that meet demand for market rate housing.
    • 4% Housing Credits are used with tax-exempt bond financing to fund approximately 1,200 affordable rentals over the last seven years. If this provision becomes law, Vermont could lose another $6-7 million in housing investments every year and see the annual number of rental homes financed potentially cut in half.
    • Tax-exempt Mortgage Revenue Bonds finance almost half of VHFA’s safe, low-cost mortgages to first-time homebuyers and would be eliminated under the House bill.
    • Mortgage Credit Certificates would no longer be available to assist eligible home buyers.
  • Eliminates the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which is a vital tool in the creation and preservation of affordable housing in historic buildings. Historic Tax Credits (HTCs) have had an enormous impact on our communities, attracting developers to invest in vacant, deteriorated, and underutilized structures.  In Vermont, HTCs are primarily used to help fund affordable housing, whether in large old mixed-use buildings in downtowns, or multiple buildings in scattered site developments.  Without them, many new projects would never take place because they wouldn’t be financially feasible.  If HTC’s are eliminated, it will have a devastating impact on our ability to develop affordable housing in the places where it makes the most sense – our downtowns, where low and moderate income Vermonters are close to goods, services and supports and can spend less on transportation.
    • In 2017, $1.8 million in HTCs leveraged $11.8 million in total investments to help fund 65 homes in redeveloped buildings in Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Fair Haven, Montpelier and Stowe.
    • From 2012 – 2017, $24 million in HTCs helped fund 643 homes in 68 projects, serving 25 Vermont communities and generating $145 million in total private investment.
  • Eliminates the New Markets Tax Credit, a key resource for community revitalization efforts in economically distressed areas. Housing and community development investments work together in revitalizing neighborhoods and improving local economies.  Neither investment can do it alone.
    • Housing Vermont’s tax credit program has used over $123 million in financing for 15 projects that invest in the economic, environmental, and social well-being of Vermont communities.
    • The many projects financed include the Enosburg Health Center, the Brooks House and Commonwealth Dairy in Brattleboro, Barre’s City Place, and Burlington’s King Street Youth Center.
  • Reforms the Mortgage Interest Deduction, which has been a long-standing priority for housing advocates and would ordinarily be a major step in the right direction. Unfortunately, instead of using the savings from this reform to better target spending on housing solutions for those with the greatest needs, the House bill funnels these and other savings to pay for highly regressive tax cuts for the richest households and corporations.
  • Increases the federal debt by $1.5 trillion over a decade, a move likely to lead to deep spending cuts to affordable housing and community development, not to mention Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Unfunded tax cuts will only add pressure on Congress to enact massive budget cuts at the expense of millions of families who benefit from federal investments that help them meet basic needs.
  • Threatens to dramatically reduce charitable giving, which will have an enormous impact on all nonprofits, including Coalition members who develop affordable housing and provide a broad array of services to low-income Vermonters and those with special needs. According to Urban Institute estimates, Vermonters’ pro-rata loss in charitable gift deductions could be as much as $136 million.  Community organizations like the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), which rely heavily on individual and business contributions, could immediately feel the impact of a tax bill that no longer incentivizes middle income Americans to contribute locally.

THE SENATE TAX PROPOSAL:

  • Is more favorable to affordable housing than the House bill, because it preserves Private Activity Bonds, retains both the New Market and Historic Preservation Tax Credits, and adds a number of no-cost enhancements to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Nonetheless, its impact on the equity raised by the Housing Credit is the same as the House bill, so it would still severely reduce affordable rental housing production at a time when Vermont and most of the nation continue to be gripped by an acute affordable housing crisis.  National tax experts Novogradac & Co. estimate that, over ten years, the Senate tax bill – which is still undergoing changes – would reduce the future supply of affordable rental housing by nearly 300,000 homes nationally and that Vermont could lose:
    • 650 rental homes,
    • 740 jobs,
    • $62,089,000 in business income, and
    • $23,881,000 million in federal, state and local taxes. 

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The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition is a statewide membership organization dedicated to ensuring that all Vermonters have decent, safe and affordable housing, particularly the state’s low and moderate-income residents, elders, people living with homelessness, and people with disabilities.
For more information, visit www.vtaffordablehousing.org.

 

 



Vermont Rural Ventures’ Project Selected as Semi-Finalist for National Award

Posted May 1, 2015

Vermont Rural Ventures’ innovative financing of the redevelopment of Brattleboro’s Brooks House has been chosen as a semi-finalist by the National Development Council (NDC) for its Academy 2015 Awards. The awards recognize the top economic and community development projects in the nation and are part of the NDC Academy 2015 biennial conference.

Vermont Rural Ventures, the community development subsidiary of Housing Vermont, partnered with the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, to provide $23.4 million in New Markets Tax Credit authority to redevelop and restore the historic circa 1871 Brooks House, a mixed-use commercial building located in the heart of Brattleboro’s downtown.

“The Brooks House block occupies a prominent place in downtown Brattleboro,” said Hildene President and NDC Board Member Seth Bongartz. “Redeveloping that property was crucial for the area, and I am incredibly proud to see Vermont being recognized for innovation and community strength on the national stage.”

Completed in the fall 2014, the Brooks House includes classrooms for the Vermont Technical College and the Community College of Vermont, retail shops, three restaurants and 23 mixed-income apartments.

The Historic Brooks House Redevelopment Project was selected by NDC as a semi-finalist in the Community Development category. One project in each category will be awarded the top honor at the NDC Academy 2015 Awards on May 14. To learn more about the Brooks House Project, visit: http://vermontruralventures.com/vrv-projects/brooks-house-brattleboro/.

 



Save the Date: Downtown and Historic Preservation Conference, June 5th

Posted April 14, 2015

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development in partnership with the Preservation Trust of Vermont is pleased to announce open registration to the Downtown and Historic Preservation Conference in Burlington Friday, June 5th at Main Street Landing. The conference will offer a wide range of topics to enhance the quality of life in our downtowns and villages including Using Streets to Revitalize Communities, Increasing Downtown Housing Opportunities, Innovating Community Engagement, Techniques to Flood Proof Buildings, Attracting Visitors to your Downtown and more. Several tours in the afternoon will highlight Burlington in a way you have never seen including a Walking History Tour of Burlington’s Waterfront, Edible History of Burlington, among others.

The key note speaker is Geoffrey Anderson of Smart Growth America named by Partners for Livable Communities as “One of the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Sustainable Community Planning and Development.” Geoff came to his current position after eight years heading the Smart Growth Program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In the past year, Smart Growth America has worked to support the Agency of Transportation’s efforts revitalizing Main Streets, spurring downtown investment and creating more opportunities for Vermonters to walk, bike or take bus to downtown jobs, shops and schools.

AICP CM credits are available for select sessions pending approval.

Registration is now open so take advantage of Early Bird rates while they last. Attendance is limited to 250 so be sure register early.

Register online now: http://accd.vermont.gov/strong_communities/conference

If you would like more information about the conference including sponsorship opportunities, please contact gary.holloway@state.vt.us or 802-828-3220.

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2013 Downtown & Historic Preservation Conference

Posted May 28, 2013

The Department of Housing and Community Development Preservation Trust of Vermont presents the 2013 Downtown & Historic Preservation Conference! Join professionals in downtown revitalization, historic preservation, planning, tourism and economic development to network and learn. The keynote speaker will be David Feehan, an expert in downtown revitalization.

When: Friday, June 7, 2013/9:00am – 4:00pm
Where: The Barre Opera House, Downtown Barre, VT

See Conference Website for Full Agenda
Register Today 

 



Sen. Leahy, Gov. Shumlin Announce Agreement and Funding for the Redevelopment of a State Office Complex Building for Affordable Housing

Posted February 17, 2013

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) awarded $950,000 to fund the redevelopment of the Vermont State Office Complex’s Ladd Hall into affordable housing. The announcement was made last Friday, February 15, by U.S Senator Patrick Leahy and Governor Peter Shumlin. Funding for the project comes from the over $20 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds that the ACCD received through HUD following Tropical Storm Irene. CDBG grants were awarded to five additional Vermont communities. These grants will fund affordable housing and community-strengthening initiatives across the state, and total over $1 million.

View PDF of Full Press Release

View Descriptions of CDBG Grants

 



Public Hearing – 2013 Action Plan for HUD Consolidated Plan

Posted January 29, 2013

The State of Vermont’s Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development will conduct a public hearing in preparation of developing its 2013 Action Plan for the HUD Consolidated Plan for 2010-2015, to hear views about the State’s housing and community development needs, including priority non-housing community development needs and development of proposed activities, and review past performance related to its HUD Consolidated Plan. The plan constitutes the State’s application for, and outlines priorities for use of approximately $10 million in Federal funding provided annually to the State for the Community Development Block Grants (CBDG), Home Investment Partnerships (HOME), and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG).  The goals of the plan are to provide decent housing, assure a suitable living environment, and expand economic opportunities for Vermont’s citizens. The State’s Consolidated Plan is available on the Department’s website.

When: Tuesday, February 12, 2013, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Where: Calvin Coolidge Room, Davis Building, 1 National Life Drive, Montpelier – sixth floor. 

The hearing room is handicapped accessible.  Accommodations for persons with disabilities, and interpreters to meet the needs of non-english speaking persons will be made available upon request.  Requests should be directed to Arthur Hamlin at (802) 828-3211; TTY#1-800-253-0191, or in writing to Arthur Hamlin, Housing Program Coordinator, Vermont DEHCD, 1 National Life Drive, 6th Floor, Montpelier, VT  05620 by 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday February 5, 2013.

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The Rose Street Artists’ Co-op is thriving in Burlington’s Old North End

Posted December 21, 2012

Reposted from Vermont Life Magazine, “Creative Solution” by Melissa Pasenen. Photographs by Jerry Swope.

Over the past fifteen years, the Rose Street Artists’ Co-op in The Old North End of Burlington transformed from a deteriorating warehouse to a thriving arts space and community center. The Co-op demonstrates the importance of supporting artists and arts-programming within a community, and how it serves to strengthen neighborhoods. According to Polly Nichol, the Housing Programs Director at the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, “The arts community is a really important partner in revitalizing downtowns and village centers.”

View PDF of Full Vermont Life Article

 

 



Governor Shumlin Announces $1.7 Million Grant for Healthy Homes Program

Posted October 2, 2012

By: Susan Allen, Office of the Governor and Ron Rupp, VHCB, Press Release, October 1, 2012

“MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont’s Congressional delegation announced today that the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) will receive a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund Healthy Homes Vermont. The new program will add to existing rehabilitation programs, providing assistance to correct building issues that contribute to unhealthy living conditions like mold, moisture and pest infestation, and particularly affect vulnerable groups, such as children with asthma and the elderly…”

PDF of Full Press Release

 



Burlington’s King Street Neighborhood Looks to Build Up — Without Gentrifying

Posted September 25, 2012

By: Kathryn Flagg. Reposted from Seven Days, September 19, 2012.

“Jodi Whalen says Burlington’s King Street neighborhood was ‘a little beaten down’ when she and her husband, Phil Merrick, opened their café and bakery, August First, in 2009. Today, the section is on the upswing, but with empty buildings and vacant lots, Whalen sees room for improvement.

‘Burlington needs to build up,’ she says, “and this is a great neighborhood to do that…'”

Link to Full Seven Days Article

PDF of Full Article

 



Senator Bernie Sanders Recognized by National Housing Group

Posted September 14, 2012

By Chris Donnelly, Champlain Housing Trust & Jessica Grant, National CLT Network, September 11, 2012

Burlington, Vermont – “The National Community Land Trust Network recognized US Senator Bernie Sanders with the Swann Matthei Award Tuesday on the opening day of its 2012 national conference in Burlington, Vermont. The Swann Matthei Award was named for two individuals who helped to lay the foundation for the development of community land trusts in the United States: Bob Swann and Chuck Matthei. It recognizes the outstanding contribution of an individual or organization in promoting the use of the community land trust in building and sustaining community…”

Link to Full Press Release

 



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